Microsoft ships Windows App SDK 1.1 for building apps using WinUI 3, WebView2 — Visual Studio Magazine


Microsoft ships Windows App SDK 1.1 for building apps using WinUI 3, WebView2

Microsoft has delivered a major update to its Windows App SDK, a unifying resource for building different types of Windows apps with modern technologies.

The company calls the Windows App SDK the evolution of Windows desktop application development, providing a unified set of libraries, frameworks, components, and tools — decoupled from Windows and served through NuGet — that developers can use to consistently build any which desktop app on OS versions ranging from Windows 11 all the way up to Windows 10 version 1809. It was designed to alleviate the complexity of Windows app development caused by the emergence of two different API schemes. separate Windows apps, one for the older Win32 APIs and one for the more modern Universal Windows Platform (UWP).

In fact, the Windows App SDK used to be called “Project Reunion” because it unified these two disparate app development API approaches that resulted from the early days of UWP.

Reunion Project
[Click on image for larger view.] Reunion Project (source: Microsoft).

One of the aforementioned modern SDK technologies is WinUI 3the native UI layer that has evolved into a full User Experience (UX) framework that leverages Fluent Design for a consistent control/style experience.

WinUI 3
[Click on image for larger view.] WinUI 3 (source: Microsoft).

Another main component of the SDK is the WebView2 control, which helps developers integrate web technologies (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) into native apps, using Microsoft Edge as a rendering engine to display web content.

[Click on image for larger view.] WebView2 (source: Microsoft).

Other parts of the kit provide native projections of the language for working with C++, Rust and C#, as well as MSIX-Core technology to package the application for distribution to Windows desktops through the store or own delivery pipeline. from a developer. Other APIs cover the full range of functionality, from windowing to filesystem and storage to networking, printing, notifications, and more.

Windows App SDK v1.0 debuted last November, and the development team on Friday (June 3) announcement v1.1, which features stability improvements and new features and functionality.

In this last department is the new possibility of using Mica & Acrylic Background materials. “Mica is an opaque, mode-sensitive material new in Windows 11 that incorporates the user’s background color to delight users and create a visual hierarchy,” Microsoft said. “To apply these materials to your app background, check out the new SystemBackdrop sample in the WinUI. 3 Gallery. The WinUI 3 Gallery has been updated to include several new controls and samples as well as a visual refresh to showcase the Windows 11 design language.

As the roadmap The graphic below shows that Mica materials are just part of a series of improvements in v1.1, which saw many more features and functionality added compared to v1.0:

The GitHub Roadmap
[Click on image for larger view.] The GitHub Roadmap (source: Microsoft).

Here are brief summaries of other v1.1 highlights as described by Microsoft:

  • Notifications: “Packaged, sparse, and unpackaged MSIX apps can now send Windows app notifications (also known as toast notifications) and push notifications to let users know when they’re not currently using the app.”
  • Elevation: “WinAppSDK 1.1 removes the constraints of version 1.0 that prevented running an application as an administrator. Development, administration and system management tools can now exploit the full power of Windows App SDK.”
  • C# performance improvements: “C# applications will see significant performance improvements in many different scenarios thanks to updates to the WinRT interoperability layer. In a simple Hello World WinUI 3 application, you can expect to see startup times improved by approximately 9% compared to our previous WinAppSDK 1.0 release.”
  • Windowing API: “Windowing APIs now allow you to control the relative z-order of your windows. This is a WinRT version of the hWndInsertAfter feature of SetWindowPos. Each AppWindow represents a top-level window that you can move above or below other top-level windows. Examples are being written to illustrate different scenarios for manipulating the relative z-order between windows in your application.”
  • Developer experience: New features designed to make the SDK experience easier and simpler when building desktop Windows applications include Application Lifecycle and Application Restart. “With Windows App SDK 1.1, you can now programmatically restart your app and set recovery options after the app terminates due to events such as an app update, hang, or crash This means you can recover app state after an unexpected restart and your users immediately start interacting and engaging with your app again.”
  • Model Studio:Template Studio for WinUI (C#) is now available! Template Studio is an extension for Visual Studio 2022 that speeds up the creation of new WinUI applications using a wizard-based experience. Projects created with this extension contain well-formed, readable code and incorporate the latest development features while implementing proven patterns and industry-leading practices.”
  • Standalone apps: “Windows App SDK 1.1 introduces support for self-contained deployment where your app contains WinAppSDK dependencies. This allows you to control the WinAppSDK version and use different deployment strategies, such as xcopy deployment.”
  • Boot API: “Bootstrapper APIs required to use WinAppSDK features (e.g. WinUI 3, MRT Core) in apps that don’t deploy with MSIX are now easier to use and troubleshoot. Updates include a new prompt user interface, additional logging to the event log, and additional options for handling failures, including calls to DebugBreak() and/or FailFast.”
  • Environment variable manager: “With WinAppSDK 1.1, you can now add, remove, and modify environment variables without having to directly use the registry API. Now modifying EVs in process, user, and machine scope is a unified experience.”
Windows App SDK roadmap items
[Click on image for larger view.] Windows App SDK roadmap items “under review” (source: Microsoft).

The development team will update the project roadmap to reflect what is planned for v1.2, expected later this year. Developers can vote on items in the studywhich include controls for media, maps, inking, and more, as well as XAML Islands (which can be used for WinUI 3 WPF or WinForms apps), UWP migration tools, and more, shown in the graph above.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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